The reports on Justin Bieber, and there were plenty of them, said that he was simply hanging with the wrong crowd. That explained the rumors of drug use and parties, the run-ins with the law and the rather reckless behavior.
In an interview that aired Monday on “Ralphie Tonight,” Bieber admitted as much.
“I just had pretty bad people around that were just taking advantage of my generosity and taking advantage of my sweet soul,” a low-key and relaxed Bieber spilled to me while donning a black sweatshirt, hood pulled up above a black baseball cap. “I just thought that that’s how it was supposed to be. They were saying the right things.”
But Bieber, in perhaps one of the many ways that he has changed, stops short of placing all of the blame on others.
“I was young and naïve,” he admitted before adding, “and just trusting people and got my heart broken.
“So then I was just like, f— everybody.”
But now the 21 year-old is surrounded by a group of people he feels is looking out for his best interests. I ask if those people, such as his mother Pattie Mallette and manager Scooter Braun, were always there but simply not paid any attention to until now.
“For sure, but it has to be on your time,” he replied. “They were poking me and poking me saying, ‘Justin! Justin!’ (But) until I really wanted to listen, it wasn’t going to happen.”
But this journey, which he explains involves no longer internalizing what people say but rather reflecting it back out in to the world as a positive light (his words, not mine), is what Bieber attributes in part to scoring his first chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100. “What Do You Mean?” debuted at number one, with 337,000 downloads sold in its opening week.
“I want it to be all about the music but you want to see people win when they’re genuine and authentic,” he stated. “I was in a place before where I was just trying to figure it out.”
It seems that at least to this point, Bieber has done that, although even he warns that inevitably he will “fall again.” But right now his focus is on a new album, due out this November, which he says is “40% done.”
“Like the album is pretty much complete,” he elaborated. “I just have so much touching up to do, but it’s going good.”
By “touching up,” Bieber means that he’ll go back to some songs after he sits with them for a few weeks and re-cut lines and/or add background vocals. The Canadian-born singer said there will be features on the LP, but would not reveal who. However when I asked him what artists are influencing him positively, one came to mind.
“I really like Ed Sheeran,” he responded. “I think he’s a really good dude too.”
And perhaps that is just an example of Bieber “reflecting” his light of positivity towards others. Ultimately though, he will be judged by his actions and not words. Yet even his harshest detractors might admit that the pop star sounds like someone who has experienced a life-transforming moment or two.